2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL vs. Audi Q7 2.0T: Fully Loaded Economy Model or Entry Level Luxury? [Video]

It’s a question that burns in the minds of many car shoppers out there: do you buy a loaded economy model, or enter into base model luxury brand territory?

Shopping for a new car can be a fun experience. It can be daunting. The experience can net you a car that will see you through the next several years. Or, on the other hand, it can lead to some disappointment. Especially if you’re a family on a budget, buying the right car for the job is important. If you’re feeling flush, however, here’s a question: should you buy a fully loaded car from a non-premium brand like Volkswagen, or should you take the plunge into an entry level model from a more upscale brand like Audi? Here, we compare the loaded 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SEL against the Audi Q7 with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine.

Mind you, this Audi Q7 does have some options. Against the $43,775 Atlas, the $62,100 Audi Q7 seems a much more premium proposition. However, the Audi has over $10,000 in options, which does give it a competitive edge in the luxury department. The “base” model Premium does still come with the 2.0-liter engine, while the 3.0-liter, six-cylinder Prestige starts at $65,400.

The Atlas, on the other hand, comes loaded with features, apart from the $1,960 R-Line package. That adds 20-inch alloy wheels (to the Audi’s 18-inch wheels), unique bumpers, badging and trim. This particular Atlas is also front-wheel drive, while the Audi has the brand’s signature Quattro all-wheel drive. Volkswagen’s 4MOTION system costs $1,800 more in the Atlas.

Volkswagen Atlas vs. Audi Q7
2018 Volkswagen Atlas and Audi Q7. [Photo: TFLcar]

Stalemate on power, practicality

Under the skin, the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas and Audi Q7 are largely similar animals. Both come from Volkswagen Group, and both ride atop similar platforms. It’s important to note, however, that the Atlas rides on the “MQB” platform (similar to the Golf and Tiguan), while the Q7 sits on the “MLB” platform (Similar to the A6, A7, and Porsche Macan). What’s the difference? They both fall under Volkswagen Groups “Modular Matrix” strategy. The Atlas’ design features a transversely-mounted engine, while the Audi has a longitudinally-mounted engine.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas holds the edge in terms of power – it packs 276 horsepower from a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6. The Audi, on the other hand, makes 252 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. It also holds the edge on practicality, as it has 96.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded, to the Q7’s 71.6. However, there’s a bit of a handoff when it comes to torque. The Audi has 273 lb-ft, while the Atlas has just 266 lb-ft. Since it is turbocharged, it also makes its power lower down in the rev range, and manages better performance at altitude.

However, at the end of the day, does the Audi’s higher price tag and performance edge make it a more enticing buy than the Atlas? Is the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas a perfectly reasonable alternative to the Q7? Find out our take in the video above. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more videos published throughout the week!